‘Auto Chandran’ thrilled as India sends Tamil film based on his novel to Oscars

  • KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Sep 23, 2016 00:35 IST
N Chandra Kumar, also known as “Auto Chandran”, is a 10th pass auto-rickshaw driver in Coimbatore who has written seven novels by now . (HT file photo)

A national award winner and critically acclaimed Tamil film Visaaranai, a real-life drama on police brutality, is India’s official entry for Oscars 2017 in the foreign language film category.

And a famous auto-rickshaw driver in Coimbatore is delighted.

N Chandran, 53, popularly known as Auto Chandran, is the writer of the novel Lock Up on which Visaaranai that beat back competition from Bajirao Mastani and 26 others films to win the honour is based.

Written in Tamil, Lock Up is one of Chandran’s six novels and narrates his experience of police brutality and corruption in a jail in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

“Visaaranai became an award-winning film because of Vetrimaran and the way he handled the subject. I am really thankful to him for picking my novel,” Chandran told HT over the phone from Coimbatore.

Vetrimaran is the director of the film, which floored critics at the Venice film festival and the masses when it was released in Tamil Nadu and across the world.

He chanced upon the novel and thought the story was powerful and deserved to be told. Last year, the film bagged three national awards — best regional film, best supporting actor and best editing.

Awards were welcome but “I always want to make good films”, Vetrimaran told HT.

Visaaranai, which loosely translates to court trial, stars Dinesh, Samuthirakani, Ajay Ghosh and Kishore.

Asked if he would be going for the Oscars, Chandran, who between penning novels continues to drive the auto, said, “If I am asked, I will jump at it – who would let go of such an opportunity.”

Vetrimaran may just give him that opportunity. “I think Auto Chandran must be part of our team to start pitching the film at the Oscars,” he said.

Visaaranaiis the ninth Tamil film to be chosen as a hopeful to bring the Oscar to India. Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram (released in 2000) was the last film in the language to compete.

Watch Visaaranai trailer

Read | Coimbatore autowallah takes ‘write route’ to Venice film fest

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